Academy Screenings: A holiday gift for cinephiles | AspenTimes.com

Academy Screenings: A holiday gift for cinephiles

Stewart Oksenhorn

The Spanish film "Volver," starring Penélope Cruz, left, will be screened at Aspen Filmfest's 2006 Academy Screenings, which open in December. (Emilio Pereda & Paola Ardizzoni)

Movie fans, save the date. Make that dates. Make that lots of dates. Pretty much half the month of December. Holiday time with families be damned – there are movies to see.Aspen Filmfest’s 16th annual Academy Screenings is set for Dec. 18-Jan. 1. The series presents one screening each of films considered contenders for Academy Awards. Each year, several of the films are shown in Aspen before being released nationally. This year’s series will feature 20-25 films; all Academy Screenings are at Harris Concert Hall.Among the films to be presented in this year’s Academy Screenings are “Bobby,” “Volver,” “The Good German,” “The Painted Veil” and “Shut Up and Sing.”

“Bobby” is Emilio Estevez’s kaleidoscopic re-creation of the hours leading up to the 1968 assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. The film’s ensemble cast features Sharon Stone, William H. Macy, Laurence Fishburne, Anthony Hopkins and Demi Moore.”Volver,” by Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar (“Talk to Her,” “All About My Mother”), is about a mother’s ghost returning to her hometown to help her daughters. The female ensemble cast, headed by Penélope Cruz, earned a best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival.Cate Blanchett and George Clooney star in “The Good German,” a Steven Soderbergh-directed murder mystery set in post-war Berlin.

“The Painted Veil” stars Naomi Watts as a woman in 1920s England who, disenchanted with her marriage, finds her life’s purpose in the Far East. Adapted from the W. Somerset Maugham novel, the film is directed by John Curran (“We Don’t Live Here Anymore”) and co-stars Edward Norton and Liev Schreiber.”Shut Up & Sing” is Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck’s documentary of the country music group the Dixie Chicks, in the wake of derogatory comments they made about President Bush. The film had its U.S. premiere in September at Aspen Filmfest, where it earned the Audience Favorite Documentary award.Last year’s program featured Academy Award-winning films “Crash” (best picture), “Tsotsi” (best foreign language film) and “Memoirs of a Geisha” (best art direction, cinematography and costume design), as well as Oscar nominees “Mrs. Henderson Presents,” “Transamerica,” “Joyeux Noël,” “The New World,” “Murderball” and “Paradise Now.”

The full program for the 2006 Academy Screenings will be announced after Thanksgiving. Tickets go on sale Dec. 13. For further information, go to http://www.aspenfilm.org.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com